Friday, June 29, 2012

One Friday in Sydney

Soup, socks and the Stalking Shadow

My borrowed flat bar coasts gently as the path sweeps around the lake. Tears meet sweat. I start to sob.

I can’t do it. My brain is done. I’m tired. I can’t go and get another job. I can’t go and see another psychologist. I just want this all to go away.

I’m angry. I’m sad. And mostly, I feel nullity.

I furiously grind the pedals. I normally love this ride around Lake Burley Griffin but now I just want to get it done. So much so, my muscles don’t scream this time when I get out of the saddle to conquer the rise behind the Governor General’s house.

My friend catches up to me just before we descend down a small hill. I’m not sure if she noticed I was crying. I don’t much care.

But I’m lucky she and her husband do. I needed a different scene to my house. I’d been holed up there for a while since the four hour hospital visit a few Fridays ago. She took me today for a ride around the lake, accepting only yes as my answer. I’ve watched hours and hours of TV. Season 8 of Entourage, the last two episodes of White Heat, 8 episodes and I’m up to date with America on the latest Mad Men.

And she’s fed me. Pea and  ham soup, quiche leftovers and given me her ex fat bastard, brand new long knicks to ride in, and pink argyle socks (she has no idea who Ryder Hesjedal is). She rides my pace despite her lovely Cannondale roadie.

I don’t know what happened. I don’t know why in my middle class blessings I can’t get out of bed or can’t cope. I have battled depression for many years now, attempting to manage it through exercise, writing and other stuff I love. For the last six to twelve months, I became indispensable at work, working long hours, taking work home, thinking about work, and ignoring rather than fighting the stalking shadows. The Thursday night before that Friday, I had a meltdown. My brain could cope no longer with the chemical imbalance caused by stress.

The next morning, I was psychologically finished. I asked my husband to drive me to the nearest mental health care facility which we soon found out you can only get into via the hospital’s accident and emergency. Four hours later, I was out of there with pills and an order to go to the GP for a mental health care plan.

* * *

“Fleeting thoughts of self harm.”

Fleeting thoughts of self harm. Words written by the A&E psych on Friday in my file. That was the reason the mental health care team visited me on the Monday. I told the A&E psych I felt like driving my car and crashing it. Not to kill myself or do major damage, but just enough to go and get some rest. I explained to the two lovely women sitting in my lounge room with their note pads, it was my descripiton for my feelings, not my plan for action. This answer satisfied them as they left my house and “closed” my file, advising on their way out, I should give up the job I was in.
I have not seriously considered suicide. My stubborn will grips a couple of fingers tightly on life, hope and amibition, trying its best to stick the middle finger up at indifference. It’s hard seeing people tweet about the Tour this week and their role in it. I am not envious. I just wonder how lethal I could be if I could only concentrate.

The last five weeks have been hard. I’m not sure where I would be without Bron and Harj’s soup and socks; the support of other friends and family; and tweeps who have helped me out of an urgent spot. But mostly, I don't know where I would be without my husband Adrian.

The support he has provided to me at his own cost is for me an expression of real romantic love. I cried in the hospital A&E room, I cried in his arms, I cry crouched down on the bottom of the shower. He is still here, providing me and us with exactly what we need. Most of all, he tries to comply 200% to the “just say that’s shit isn’t it, and hug me” ruling I gave him early on in our relationship rather than try to fix me. I see in his eyes just how hard that is for him.

Cycling and depression

Cycling for me used to be about escape. Relief from the warring legions of thought in my brain, my only thoughts excited kid like ones and concentrating on keeping tempo up a hill. But other thoughts have now invaded this last hiding place. “That car came too close. Fuck this fucking groupset. Fuck this bike, why is getting out for a ride so fucking difficult?.” This of course isn’t about the groupset or my $300 ebay bought bike, but illogically blaming myself about the financial situation I have put us in. Thankfully, we can just cover the bills at the moment, but that’s it. I’m going for a job interview later today, an easy admin job that would leave me time to blog and write and exercise. But getting that would make life too manageable. (And there’s the anger again).

Other than a nice little 7.5km ride a couple of weeks ago – it was all I could handle without it becoming an extension of my mind - I’ve not been out for a proper road ride. I almost laugh as I think about how only in March I competed in my first sprint triathlon.

I haven't done any running or swimming or riding. Instead, I’ve been walking. Two times around the block, about twenty minutes. I go despite the weather. I rug up to embrace the cold, scared to work, to write, to live, to ride.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

It's back - #tdf133

Back by popular demand, Tourdecouch brings you the #tdf133 competition. 

You will find more details below, plus last year’s finalists, but put simply: it’s summing each stage up in a tweet, minus the #tdf133 hashtag.

At this stage, I can’t provide any prizes. However, this may change in three weeks time if my financial situation does OR if some generous person reading this decides to donate something. (If that’s you, get in touch via

It’s a load of fun, so get in on it!

Here's the details of how to enter from last year – one thing is different, we’ll do all 21 stages, and allow a day or two for voting:

Competition Details: 
Tweet your description after each stage of the Tour and use hashtag #tdf133.  That's 140 characters minus the hashtag topic. (You have to use the hastag or I won't see it. No @replies coz that gives u less characters unless you're super brief). You will need to tweet by the following times in your region (I hope I have got them kind of right):

Australian Eastern Standard Time - 12 noon of next day after the stage you're tweeting about
France part of the Continent - 4am of the next day after the stage you're tweeting about
UK - by 3am of the next day's after the stage you're tweeting about
America/Canada - East side - 10pm of the same day as the stage you're tweeting about (I think?)
America/Canada - West side - 7pm of the same day as the stage you're tweeting about

This time gives non European viewers who can't watch it live the chance to watch the highlights and tweet - and it falls at my lunch time so I can read them all.

A stage winner for every stage up until and including the final stage will be announced on my blog about 4-5 hours later so you'll know the winner before the next stage (unless it's a rest day, but I'll still put it up the same time). Each stage winner goes into the final 21 and then it's up to the voters.

Voting starts after the final stage and when the blog post is up for the finalists.   You can vote by either emailing me at or in the comments using your twitter url as an id - or other option there. This year anonymous votes will be counted, but won’t be eligible for a prize if I’m able to rustle any up by then.

Last year’s finalists

Stage 19  
That boy raced the cleft off his chin today. Amazing.   @cycleboredom

Stage 18 
Leopards leaping! Bert borked. Samu sadfaced. Cadel calculated. Rolland robotic. Voeckler valiant.  @brassyn

Stage 17
Tour de Carpark 2011.....where am I? @sister_ratched

Stage 16 
The breakaway was stacked, Contador attacked, Andy cracked, and Basso lacked. Thor won,there was no sun, Cuddles gained on everyone @techknowgn

Stage 15 
Voeckler flares the patron's wand as riders cross Carmague. A break with FDJ again is caught. Cav wins the sprint; Farrar cries argh   @butterflywriter

Stage 14 
A bootylicious Vanendert to Plateau de Beille and the Tour history books: "I don't think you're ready for this Jelle"  @cycletard

Stage 13
Vultures visit; Kloedi goes Boom; Rainbows resplendent after Thor thunders and storms the mountain; Roy's raw ride wrings our hearts   @dontcallmekaty

Stage 12
AC got dropped like a rock; wasnt much of a shock, one schleck looked back, the other attacked and Voeklers the fellow in yellow @techknowgn

Stage 11
Air raid sirens in Gaillac signal Manxman Mark to launch missile causing Greipel to grapple at line as Gilbert loses grip on green. @cycletard

Stage 10
Manx missile launch failure caused German gorilla to escape from zoo peloton @sansenmag

Stage 9
Was neutralised - no winner

Stage 8
TJ takes the high road in vain and a vintage Vino runs dry. Gilbert auditions late for leading man but Rui is this movie's star. @smfifteen

Stage 7
Sky falls, hearts break. Heads bump and swell, so too anger and bile. Press on thru pain. Abandon seems to be the hardest word. @cycletard

Stage 6
'Sky opens up, rains bring Viking reign on the slick streets of Lisieux' @cycletard

Stage 5
Cyclists kiss the tarmac by the coast, some surrendering skin before Cavendish leaves his critics high and dry. @smfifteen

Stage 4
Hell yes, GC boys come out to play early. Cadel overcomes Bert's premature celebration.@brassyn

Stage 3
Tyler reigns supreme on Independence Day, organisers celebrate by giving Cav an earlier kick in the teeth than usual. @brassyn

Stage 2
BMC's Pilot Fish can't catch Cuddles' yellow as Fabs fires on 4 cylinders in search of Andy's pony. Thor SMASHes polka dots for win!  @cycletard

Stage 1
"PhilGil. Again. Steve Bartman's French cousin sabotages Contador. @CycleHermit